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 LifeKnowledge Spotlight: Facilitating Balanced Classroom Instruction

Q & A with Rebecca Carter


Quality classroom instruction goes beyond the popular e-Moments of the LifeKnowledge program. Read on to find out how Rebecca Carter of Virginia explains what balanced classroom instruction means to her.


LK: What are your tactics in keeping classroom instruction balanced with all the other pressures of an agriculture teacher, such as CDEs, SAEs and FFA?


RC: To keep the balance, I feel the key is to delegate responsibility through officers, students, parents and the community. This allows me to use the available resources in my class, school and community.


LK: What is quality classroom instruction and how does quality classroom instruction affect the three-circle model?


RC: Quality classroom instruction is when all students are actively participating or engaged in learning. Class instruction the key to the three-circle model because it is the first opportunity for students to be interested in agriculture and gain the basic knowledge needed to accomplish other tasks.


LK: How do you decide which areas take precedence in your classroom?


RC: In referring to the three-circle model, it depends on what is happening at that time. I try to link the instruction being given to a hands-on application or activity. For example, I teach forestry lessons around the time we will be able to participate in the forestry CDE.


LK: How does LifeKnowledge fit in? How does the use of LK affect your quality classroom instruction and balance?


RC: LifeKnowledge is incorporated in all that I do. To me, it is more than pointing out teachable moments; it’s living them by example. So I try to be the best example for my students to see the appropriate behavior, responses, etc. LK is incorporated by itself to push students to develop their own best self. Using the education methods built into LK is also the way in which I facilitate learning. It is how I teach and present information and make it meaningful to the students. LK continuously helps as I am trying to draw the connection to real life and agriculture.


LK: In what ways does LifeKnowledge help you keep that balance?


RC: Well, when teaching specific concepts and trying to be the model for them, LK forces me to focus on what is important. It helps keep me grounded to what my purpose/goal is.


LK: Let’s look at classroom instruction beyond e-Moments. I think many of our LK users have really picked up on this strategy, but what else is there? Other than e-Moments, what do you think creates effective instruction?


RC: Effective instruction is engaging the students in a fun but thoughtful manner – taking what they know and linking it to a concept that they don’t know, so they will remember it. This is done through inclusive language, specific and effective directions, meaningful tasks/assignments and effective feedback.


LK: What tips or traps have you discovered in your teaching career concerning classroom instruction?


RC: A trap for me is going back to my old way of teaching – just giving the information and not allowing the students to experience it and work through it. A tip is, if you hear yourself as a teacher talking too much, then you are not allowing the students to work through the information. If I find myself tired or working too hard, then I have not done my job correctly.


LK: Is there anything else on this topic or LK usage that you would like to share?


RC: LK is a frame of mind in some ways. It’s realizing that learning does not have to go through a teacher. The teacher is just the guide or facilitator. LK is more than lessons, activities, language, directions, questioning – it’s you being yourself and allowing yourself to bring out the best in every student in your classroom. It’s all of the concepts of LK together that make them work.